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RIGHT TO THE POINT: Turning 36! – Belizeans need to mature for Belize to mature

Uncertainty: Then there is now an uncertainty as to who are all the judges, because when Dr. Candice Pitts read her version of the proclamation she read names of ten, not seven judges, and I have gone over the recording several times to ensure I heard well, so who are the three additional judges now? The seven judges on the night of the pageant were: Sharon Frazer, Luanne Daniels, Ed Williams, Alma Gomez, Frank Tench, Clayton Grinage, and Rashida Hoy, but the additional names are: Marie Louise Murray, Sherlett Perriott and Orenko Akabuleh (not sure of spelling). How come they are judges? When were they appointed and by whom and under what rule? Thus, I keep demanding to see a copy of the new sign-off form signed by the judges making this new score valid and forming the basis of the new results? Why can’t we see the evidence? Why?

Time-keeper: Now per several members of the QOTB-NC, the judges did not take away points for penalties committed, especially in relation to time – hmmm, so that begs the question: “Was a timekeeper(s) appointed to keep the judges aware of time limits? No one has been named because from my investigation none was appointed, which is a basic requirement when time is an issue. This is not the fault of the judges or the contestants, but of the QOTB-NC!

Illegality: Now, at first, per the press release, “The judges emerged and submitted their individual reassessed scores…”, but then we find out that all the judges claimed they DID NOT change their scores, so who then changed it for them and gave Ms OW 20 more points per the QOTB-NC members (Moya, Thompson, Pitts)? How could there be a new total tally if the judges never changed their scores? This is the crux of the matter and instead of everyone insisting that the evidence be presented and until we see who added or took off points to create a new tally, all else are lies,… fairy tales… illusions… make believe… or the doing of deranged and malicious minds. That, or those persons need to explain now that there is a fiasco! If they don’t, it’s because there is too much to hide otherwise their names would not be secret, but from all accounts they are not the original judges! But if any of the original judges did change their score I demand to know and hear from him/her.

Audit: It’s strange that on the night of the pageant the final scores were tallied by tabulators, Jason and Ann Pascual, Aziza Hulse, Sheree Peters, and Dara Pascual listed on the official form signed by the judges on pageant night. Then interestingly, in an attempt to legitimize the re-judged pageant between seemingly two candidates, now an “independent chartered accountant”, per Dr. Pitts’ account, Shawn Mahler, is present. However, this in my books does not even augur well, as at pageant night such auditor should have been present. Sandra Mahler, Chair, Advertising, Publication, and Ticket Sales Committee of QOTB National Committee, should not be confused with Shawn Mahler, don’t know if they are related, but if they are that too would not bode well as it defies the principle “justice must not only be done, but seem to be done.” It does not mean that anything untoward had to happen, but that all conduct must have the appearance of fairness, non-biasness should prevail and room should not be given for things to be called into question.

Full disclosure: The key players need to be disclosed because per an interview given by Ms. Moya, the judges even had a legal adviser present: “And we provided them with the clipping and the legal person gave her advice as to what they should do and then the auditor took over for us.” We do not know the name of this legal luminary and yet it seems based on his advice the judges proceeded. Yet one judge, Luanne Daniels, went public stating “I firmly stand by the decision that the judges [plural] made on September 2nd and while I was at the meeting today [Friday], I did not in any way, shape or form change my scores.” So are the other judges lying when they told the past queens and the Minister and chair of the National September Celebrations Committee, Patrick Faber, that they did not change their scores? So how come the auditor is getting a new tally on the same scores? It’s not adding up – no pun intended!

Points deducted: Per Moya, in a media interview, “Nineteen points were deducted from Stann Creek and a point that was erroneously taken off from her [Ms. Orange Walk], in the introduction there was a judge that erroneously took a point off from Orange Walk…” was given back to her. So if the judges are the only ones who can deduct points from their scores, and they are all saying they didn’t, then WHO… please tell me, who had the authority to so deduct? Was it the auditor? Was it the QOTB-NC? Was that what the legal adviser told them to do? And is that legitimate? In judging, the discretion is on the judge on how they see and assess the contestants, and they decide if penalties should be applied. Like in football and basketball we on TV see plays that should be penalties, but the referees if they don’t see it will not be expected to deduct…it’s their call and it’s final!

Being heard: It is ironic that the press release first issued said “due process” was followed. I wonder if the players realize that due process means giving notice to the other side, and other committees, and giving them a chance to be heard, in writing, in person, on the phone or via a representative and taking into consideration their representation. Thus, I really want to know who was the legal adviser, as this is the A-B-C of due process and fairness. As it stands, it’s only OW that got their say and made clarification by phone when they virtually attended the meeting of the judges, by phone. Why couldn’t the other committees likewise be contacted and informed that there is a review and reassessment, to make representation on the very request being made, especially since the pageant rules do not provide for this? I maintain the new tallying has impacted all and if indeed Ms. SC’s points were reduced by 19 points, then she might just have placed last… so now who is the 1st runner up and how do the others rank?

The damage is done!
My analysis is that at minimum in the zeal to appeal, the QOTB NC erred in entertaining a complaint five days later and less than 48 hours to coronation time. In law and the principle of fairness, there is a time limit for appeals and it cannot be used as an ambush. They have caused damage to many persons’ reputation, humiliated too many, including themselves; they have lost credibility and the more they talk the more they dig their hole. The judges have been painted as incompetent; racist (not all); untrained; and downright are now discredited, even if not justifiably so! One such judge is a tainted attorney and I will give her the benefit of the doubt that she participated in this charade, as I know she of all people knows about “judging” and the principles of fairness, equity and the rule against bias!

The media has misrepresented the removal of the coordinator as a “firing”, when the letter by Ms. Emma Boiton reads otherwise, and for the propaganda, the coordinator has not clarified and believes she decides when to leave, thus I wonder if that is the attitude and position of all the other committee members? However, this same attitude of entitlement is a mirror of the very attitude we have seen from the Prime Minister, who unilaterally makes decisions, changes laws to suit himself and his behaviour. It also reflects the arrogance of Gapi Vega and John Saldivar and the high-handedness of Patrick Faber, and the insolence of Elvin Penner and the self-proclaimed righteousness of Godwin Hulse … should I continue the list? Oh and the abuse of process and power of the police … you get the point – the lower ranks do as the upper ranks have taught. It’s about unbridled power that seems to get into the heads of those who assume position and power forgetting they are to serve the public, not their egos. At 36, our country is immature as our leaders are immature!

The drama that played out on the stage in Belize City on the 10th day of September in this year, is a reflection of the problem we have with leadership and leaders feeling entitled, above the law, and irremovable! Some seeking to capitalize on the political mileage, love the opportunity to attack the government and certain Ministers, but really the whole saga is a reflection of our overall poor leadership, our pettiness and our lack of understanding of proper systems and structures of fairness and mode of doing public business in the interest of the public. It even reflects on how, as average Belizeans, we are easily distracted by human pettiness and exert great energy on these “scandals” yet some of these same persons commenting and postulating would never comment on pressing national issues such as corruption, passport immigration scandal, Belize–Guatemala dispute, much less we could not even find them joining a mass protest to demand better governance. We remain mired in the battle of the crowns, but the battle to save our nation has not been able to recruit faithful soldiers! We have not shown a good example to our youths, and the damage to Aliyah and Esmeralda cannot be undone!

Happy 36th Birthday, Belize!

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